Catch a wave. . .
Nick Malachowski, a designer in the Chrysler Advanced studio, told me that he’d driven a Jeep Wrangler for a couple of years. “There was one thing that always surprised me. When I’d pass by another Wrangler driver, they’d wave,” he said.
A few days later, I was behind the wheel of a 2013 Jeep Wrangler Moab, a limited edition model based on the Wrangler Sahara model (i.e., it is a $5,200 package on top of the base price for the Wrangler Unlimited Sahara). Evidently they have a thing for Jeep-like destinations in Auburn Hills.
And sure enough, a Wrangler and a wave. A Wrangler and a wave. Grand Cherokee? Nothing. Patriot? Nope. Compass? Please. Liberty. Not even.
I parked the Jeep in the deck at the McNamara Terminal in Detroit. When I came back from the trip I found a Wrangler—a two-door, not a four like the Moab—parked next to the Jeep. While that neighboring Wrangler was not a Moab, the owner evidentially spent more than a few bucks adding mods to the vehicle.
Clearly, there is a brother- and sister-hood among Wrangler owners. I suspect this has a lot to do with the fact that they all have an affinity for owning vehicles that are machines built to take whatever can be thrown at them—and still have the capacity to take even more.
Yes, as a modern, 21st century vehicle the Moab has a certain amount of refinement compared to, say, a late 20th century Wrangler.
But when all is said and done, the Jeep Wrangler Moab is more of a machine than a living room, more like a hammer than a TV remote.
It is solid engineering in its essential form.
While I didn’t have the opportunity to climb mountains, cross glaciers, ford rivers, and do what Wrangler owners do whenever they have the slightest chance, I have had the white-knuckled pleasure (?) to drive a four-door Wrangler in Moab. With professionals providing suggestions, recommendations, and other tips that undoubtedly saved my skin. So I am confident that the Wrangler Moab can do all of those things and then some.
“Regular” vehicles with four doors are generally designed and engineered to go to the grocery store and mall, to work and the country club. They are built for comfort and style. The Wrangler Moab can go to the grocery store and the country club, especially if either of those places have a desert between you and it. The Wrangler Moab is not built for comfort and style in a conventional sense, but in the sense that if you are in need of top-level performance vis-à-vis traction, ground clearance, maneuverability, articulation, and water fording (the five fundamentals of what “Trail Rated” means in Jeep nomenclature).
From the hooks on the front to the tail lamp guards on the back and the heavy-gauge steel rock rails along the side, this vehicle means business—but not in the buttoned-down sense of that word. Of course, maybe your workaday world necessitates the Dana 44 rear axle and the available electronic locker, so it does mean business.
There’s something about a Wrangler. I don’t know exactly what that thing is, but I do know that the Wrangler Moab is one solid bit of engineering that’s well worth a wave.
Engine: 3.6-liter, DOHC V6
Material: Aluminum block and heads
Horsepower: 285 @ 6,400 rpm
Torque: 260 lb-ft @ 4,800 rpm
Transmission: Five-speed automatic
Wheelbase: 116 in.
Length: 173.4 in.
Width (w/o mirrors): 73.9 in.
Height: 70.8 in.
Curb weight: 4,394 lb.
Passenger volume: 151.8-cubic feet
Base MSRP : $31,295 (for Wrangler Unlimited Sahara 4x4)
EPA: 16/20/18 city/highway/combined mpg